Art Principles and History

Form and Style

What is value?

Value is a property of color related to how light or dark the color appears. The higher the value, the lighter the color. For example, light blue pigment has a higher value than dark blue because more white has been mixed into it. Sharp contrasts of light and dark, known as chiaroscuro, can create drama as well as meaning in art; the artist Rembrandt is known for using this technique in his paintings. In The Night Watch (1642), Rembrandt used chiaroscuro to create a spotlight effect that draws the viewer’s attention to the elaborately costumed Captain Frans Banning Cocq and his yellow-clad companion. The other figures seem to recede into the background as Rembrandt used drab, lower value hues for the rest of piece.


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